Digging Deep

Tonight in Black Belt class Mr. Robinson stopped the Conditionals mid-way through a form. Not just any form, but Jhoon Rhee’s “Might for Right” (to the music of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony), a staple of Grandmaster John Chung’s tournament repertoire.

The reason? Shallow stances.

“Look around at these stances,” said the instructor. “Some of you aren’t working hard enough here. You aren’t going deep. I need to see deep stances.”

He hit “play” on the iPad and the music resumed. The stances got deeper.

Why do we need “deep stances?” In martial arts, of course, stances build strength in the legs and core. They’re essential to footwork and positioning in fighting. Deep stances convey a poetic grace melded with massive power. (Take it from a Shaolin warrior.)

In life, deep stances equate to working on anything with real feeling, care and compassion. Writing holiday cards, for example. Do you send the same sentiments to everyone on your list? Or do you dig down for a personal message that conveys what each person has meant to you this year?

The Maestro.

Beethoven dwelt in music to a legendary depth—even though he couldn’t hear a note from the musicians as they performed. He couldn’t hear the music, so he had to feel it. Imagine that process of composition, and the power Ludwig Van Beethoven had to summon to convey it to an orchestra?

That’s why he’s remembered. The depth to which Jhoon Rhee took himself to create perhaps the world’s most famous musical martial arts form. That’s a big reason he’s remembered, too. And John Chung became a legend because he went deeper with it than anyone else. His performance leaves you in awe.

This month’s word is Inspiration. We’re inspired by depth, from the depths of the ocean to the depths of space to the depths of thought and dream. Philosophy helps us channel this. So does the martial arts.

In everything you do, keep striving. Go deep.

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